Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Gift of Encouragement

Our son went to a retreat at a local Catholic church this weekend.  Prior to his going, we got a call asking us to write a letter of encouragement to him and to send it with him in an envelope as a surprise.

It was a lovely thing to sit down together and talk about how much we love our firstborn, what we are excited about for him, and what we think he does well. After our conversation, we wrote a three page note.

In doing so, we put into words what we already knew but probably hadn't said to him: that the stuff that we nag him about is minor - cutting his hair, practicing his bass - nothing stuff.  We tease him and tell him that his parents are secretly Amish and that when we nag him about whatever annoys us, he should be thankful that we're not making him wear those short black pants.  And he'll sigh like he's been cursed with the parents from 1472 and roll his eyes - not that you can see that's what he's doing beneath all that hair.  In comparison to so many people we know or hear about, however, we have no problems.

I know he knows we love him, because we tell him a lot, but it's good to write things down, by hand, on paper.  It's something he can save, like I saved the letters from my parents and my grandmas that I got when I was at college.  Letters that told me that they loved me enough to sit down and write to me.  There's something about a handwritten note that is more intentional and more real somehow, particularly in an age where everything is on a screen of some sort.

So I'm going to try practicing written encouragement.  I do have to find something suitable to write on, post-it notes don't work well.  I'm thinking that this would be a nice present for each kid for Christmas...not replacing gift cards or electronics...but giving them something that won't get obsoleted or outgrown.

A few days reflection on this post prompts me to add that these notes are best done when things are going well.  When I couldn't haul Mr. Sunshine out of bed on time for church this morning because he'd been up talking to a friend until 1:30 a.m., I was very glad that we'd written the letter on Friday.

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